WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 15

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 15th WWW:

1) Poltergeist II:
Is it a bad sequel? Not really. Is it a necessary sequel? I think so, considering that the first movie ended with the family running away, so the problem wasn't fully resolved. There's some humor introduced as the family lives a life without television sets, and oddly no one seems to acknowledge the absence of one of the daughters, as the actress who portrayed her had been murdered. Native American mysticism is introduced as Craig T. Nelson places his trust in a shaman, walking into fire or giving him his car. The evil is personified by a particularly creepy old preacher, and this villain is something of a saving grace in an otherwise forgettable film. Apparently, all the women in that family had psychic abilities which both attracted the evil spirits, and gave them something to fight back with. And I imagine for 1986, the trip to “The Other Side” was a lot more impressive.

2) Poltergeist III:
Is it a bad sequel? Oh, hell yeah. Is it a necessary sequel? Oh, hell no. Heather O'Rourke is back as Carol Anne, sent to live with her Uncle Evan Drake from Cheers and her Aunt Murphy's partner from Robocop presumably because none of the original cast wanted to return. She's going to a special school and seeing the worst therapist ever, who ends up resurrecting the evil preacher's spirit by forcing her to remember, then blaming any odd activity on the girl's “powers of suggestion”. Yeah, if I was a professional and saw reflections of things that weren't there or objects flew threw windows on their own, I'd think the little girl hypnotized me too. Idiot. The whole thing takes place in an apartment/office/shopping mall skyscraper in Chicago, and there actually are some cool things done with mirrors, puddles and other reflective surfaces as the gateway to the other side. Some of these concepts and effects partly make up for the bulk of the movie being people running around screaming “Carol AAAAAAAnnnne!” or the therapist being a complete d*ck about everything that's happening up until a young Lara Flynn Boyle pushes him down an elevator shaft. I'm not worried about posting a spoiler because if you haven't seen this 21-year-old bad movie, you don't need to. I'm just sorry both sequels came on opposite sides of the same DVD, so I had to rate the disc an average of 3 out of 5 stars overall. This one should really score much lower.

3) Observe and Report:
I have mixed feelings, because this isn't exactly what the trailers made it out to be. Sure, it's Seth Rogen playing another loser trying to get the girl, but it's much darker at times, almost but never fully committing to being a black comedy. It's like his The Cable Guy. Rogen's strength is that you like his character, but at times that's hard to do here, even after you find out he's on medication to control his outbursts. Why would anyone like this guy? Why would he like someone as self-centered and annoying as the character Anna Faris portrays? Why should Ray Liotta do anything to help this unbalanced individual get out of his mall security guard gig and become a real cop? You want to root for him because its Seth Rogen, but at times he ignores people he shouldn't and tries to win over people he really shouldn't. Ultimately, there is a character arc and a few points where he finally starts noticing things and making the right decisions, and you cheer for him. There's a great shocking moment that would have made the movie considerably better had it not been diluted seconds later, and I think that's the problem. The movie itself is bipolar, straddling the line between dark comedy and dumb comedy. From what I've heard, it's still better than 2009's other Mall Cop movie, but not by much. I may subject myself to that one eventually, but not any time soon.

4) No Good Deed:
This one was a slow burn worth seeing for Samuel L. Jackson's performance and Milla Jovovich's obligatory gratuitous nude scene, which honestly must be something in her contract. Stellan Skarsgård does his best to play the menacing mastermind behind a complex bank robbery, but at times comes off as a poor man's Gary Oldman. I blame part of that on the mustache. Adapted from a Dashiell Hammett story, the film opens and closes with Jackson's cop character playing the cello. In between, his search for a runaway girl leads him to Skarsgård's eclectic gang, which includes Jovovich, a psychopath, and a foul-mouthed old couple. A dangerous psychological game ensues once the cop is captured and the femme fatale is left to watch over him. Most of the film relies on dialogue, with Jackson standing out among the others, who all seem to be doing a stilted reading of a play. It definitely picks up momentum in the third act, with some tense scenes and clever moves. I don't remember the movie being in theaters, and probably wasn't for long, but it's a decent rental on a slow night.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



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